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Using Strong Verbs in Your Lessons

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Verbs and Goals

I learned from a venerable coach that it doesn’t help to tell your team, “Okay people. If we play hard, we can win.” Sure, it’s a true statement, but your team is more likely to be successful if you’re specific about the goals for the game (e.g., box out on every shot, pass the ball at least three times before looking to score).

I think the same holds true for our Bible classes. In the last article we discussed the importance of having an aim for the lesson. Some educators insist that the stated aim of your lesson should be specific and that the attainment of its goal should be measurable. They say you can achieve this by using “strong” verbs when articulating the aim of the lesson.

Paul Nitz, WELS missionary and professor at the Lutheran Bible Institute of Malawi, observed:

“The great value of a strong verb is that the learners can feel as if they have accomplished something. For example, if I have discussed the Third Commandment in class, I may or may not have accomplished much learning. But if I have diagrammed the meaning of the Third Commandment, I am much more likely . . . able to say with conviction, ‘I learned it!’”1

Which of the following “strong” verbs can you incorporate into your next Bible study?
Design, edit, compose, distinguish x from y, illustrate, draw, organize, solve, resolve, create, list.

But won’t it take too much time to have your students compose an additional verse to “In Christ Alone” based on a passage you were studying? And surely not everyone will want to design a baptism invitation based on the lesson about the Sacrament. In the next couple of issues we’ll talk about how to address those obstacles.

1Paul D. Nitz, “A Practical Overview of Dialogue Education” paper supplied via email (Revised May 2014): 11.